I couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of me.
The snow was coming down in large beautiful flakes.
My sight was becoming more and more limited with each mile and I couldn’t feel the road beneath us.
The lines that guide us along the road had completely disappeared. The only thing I could see through the whiteness were the red tail lights in front of us.
As long as my tires stayed directly in the tracks of the semis, I felt we would be okay. As long as the trucks stayed on the road, I would stay on the road.
My eleven year old, Amber, and I were racing back to Kansas City. A dear, dear friend was missing after a gas explosion and fire erupted in the restaurant where she served.
As soon as I got word that Megan was missing I began throwing things in our suitcases, then threw everything haphazardly into the car and raced towards the freeway.
“It’s okay, Megan, I’m on my way. We’ll find you. Hang in there! It’s going to be okay.” I exclaimed over and over again out loud.
On the phone letting others know we were on our way I was warned of a blizzard coming. I reassured family in Kansas City, “No worries. It’s clear here in Denver. No, really, the sky is clear, we will be fine.”
As I hung up the phone I looked to my left. Ominous looking clouds were rolling in swiftly. The large gray mass swallowed up the Front Range in seconds.
Gulping hard I attempted to pass a semi in front of me as I raced towards I-70. Instead the traffic made me stay directly behind the truck.
On the back of the truck in big bold letters I stared at these words: “SLOW DOWN…AND ENJOY LIFE!”
The truck’s ad for chocolate stopped my thoughts for a quick moment. Amber and I looked at one another with wide eyes and open mouths. I said another prayer out loud, then jumped into the next break in traffic to race around the truck and the Universe’s message.
“Not now.” I said as I passed the moving billboard.
A couple hours later the clouds caught up with us. So did Megan’s presence. She let me know she was fine.
I told myself her Spirit was connecting with me and she was probably in a hospital. I kept talking to her letting her know I was on my way.
Amber dialed the hospitals in Kansas City and I tried to lie my way through to any information. I pretended to be her sister first. That didn’t work.
With the next call I said I was her minister, Reverend RunningElk. Although the latter was possible, as I am ordained, saying I was her sister felt like less of a lie.
The number of vehicles in the ditches was quickly increasing, and the number of cars still on the road very few. I was grateful for the stubborn semis clutching the icy path following one behind the other.
Amber kept the tunes happy, flipping the channel anytime she noticed my eyes welling up with tears. Every song was a message, and the message was one I didn’t want to hear.
Eventually it all caught up with me. Megan was gone. And I just couldn’t go on. The storm had overtaken me.
I was creeping along the highway now, the snowflakes blinding me. Megan was beside me letting me know one death was enough, “Get off the road, Cat!” she said in her always direct and honest way.
Slowing way down with my tires still in the semi’s tracks, I approached the exit ramp wondering what would happen when I turned onto the unplowed ramp.
As the exit ramp came towards us I began to steer us out of the ruts. It was time to get off the road completely.
But instead of heading down the exit ramp my car began to spin out.
Once back in control I let out a sigh of relief. In that moment the ruts were a very comforting place to be.
“Sorry, Honey. Maybe the next exit.” I told Amber as we continued on into Western Kansas.
After three more unsuccessful attempts to exit I knew we just had to find a safe place to stop.
As soon as we saw a motel sign I knew we had to make that exit. Saying the millionth prayer of the day I headed down what we hoped was the exit ramp. We were either headed down the ramp towards the truck stop or we were headed down into a field.
There were no marks, no lines, and no tire tracks to show where the road was, only a station wagon nose down in a ditch to show one place where the road wasn’t.
We slid into the motel and I dropped my head onto the steering wheel. My hands were tired from clutching the wheel, my shoulders and back were stiff and sore with tension and buckets of tears were wanting to push through my strained eyes.
The next 48 hours were spent somewhere in Western Kansas. In the little motel room I was forced to stop. I had to stop and accept the pain, the loss and the truth.
I suppose sometimes we think if we just keep going, everything will be okay. By not stopping, we do not avoid pain, we only delay feeling what must be felt.
I wanted to keep going hoping that would make things better. Our egos want to believe we can change an outcome, make someone act the way we want, or heal everyone around us. But in stillness we accept what is ours to do, and what is ours to just accept.
This last month was time for me to stop and accept what I cannot control.
Twice in two weeks Amber and I were forced to stay in little motels in little towns far away from everyone.
I had tried to outrun a blizzard in South Dakota. Leaving Rosebud Reservation a little early I thought we would make it to Denver before that storm hit.
But the storm caught us in Valentine, Nebraska. Amber and I spent two days and two nights in a cowboy motel, just across the border from Rosebud Reservation, where I had been working.
There in the little motel I was forced to stop and surrender to the painful truth that I cannot fix the injustices, the tragedies or turn back time. Cowboys danced around us on the wallpaper, encircling me with the truth that I just can’t make things right.
And again on the way to Kansas City I was forced to sit with the truth that I had no control over the situation. I couldn’t plow my way down the road and I couldn’t bring Megan back.
Sometimes something big happens, a storm, a tragedy, that is so big and so powerful we cannot control it. And we have to surrender. And our ego moans and groans in pain because it must surrender, too.
We can try to outrun that which causes us pain, or we can try to hide from it. We can try to stay in the tracks someone else made, by keeping our heads down and only looking straight ahead. But eventually we all need to turn away from others, to be still, and to find our own way through the storm.
It is only after we look at the truth and deal with the pain that our vision can return. The storm clears and we are on our way again.
As our vision clears Spirit puts us back in the driver’s seat, with one command, “Enjoy life now.” The storms remind us how fragile life really is, and that we have no control over when our own exit will come.
In a dream I had a few nights before Megan passed over, I was driving my car but I couldn’t see where I was going. My view to the road before me was blocked.
In my dream I realized my car was a convertible. Since I could not see out the front, I looked up.
Looking up I saw a starry night sky above me. Above me the view was clear, brilliant and beautiful.
And I knew it didn’t matter if I could see down the road or not, as long as I could see the stars. Staring at the Universe above me I was reassured that all is in Divine Order, and we are all guided every step of the way, even in a white out.
Something brilliant and beautiful is always making sure we make it to the right exit.
This bright light above us will always be there to guide us all home. And as long as we can see the stars we can be assured everything is going to be all right.
If you are in a storm, be still. It will pass.
If the storm has passed, enjoy life now.
Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t. ~Richard Bach
(c) 2017 Runningelk Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to use this article in its complete unaltered entirety if full credit is given and the URL www.catrunningelk.com is included with the body of text.